Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 19:38:50 CET
Who Drew the Line?
Vuk Cosic, firstname.lastname@example.org, Ljubljana Digital Media Lab, Slovenia, http://lois.kud-fp.si/naps
Alexei Shulgin, email@example.com, moscow wwwart centre, Russia, http://sunsite.cs.msu.su/wwwart
Tell me please, how do you see the appearance of internet in arts? Is a specific net.art possible?
Yes, that's the word - "specific".
Everybody realizes that it must be something specific, different from familiar art forms. If we are talking about art as bureaucratic western social machine than we must admit that it hadn't wholly shown its disgusting snout in the net yet (as well as in moscow - and that's why I am there - in those two places). But be sure, it's coming! I hope I will be able to find another frontier then... if we are talking about those manifestations of activity that can be regarded as "artistic" but don't fit traditional art forms, monopolized by above-mentioned animal, than I am quite positive. I think that it's very important to try to open up people's minds and break the traditional, conservative attitude to what is called "art" and what is expected to be seen at a gallery/museum/art magazine. no doubt we will fail - the art machine is very powerful, there is huge money and strong protectors behind it, but you must agree - it's very seducing at least to try to build up something else...because the alternative is to be an obedient marionette in the hands of greedy curators and other mediators. This is a challenge and it inspires me though I am ready to loose. We at moscow wwwart centre have founded a special award - "wwwart medal" which "we give to web-pages that were created not as art works but gave us definite "art" feeling." (http://sunsite.cs.msu.su/wwwart/award/) let me quote some more from our manifesto: "internet is an open space where the difference between "art" and "not art" has become blurred as never before in XX century.
That's why there are so few "artists" in this space. There is possibility of misinterpretation and loss of "artistic" identity here.
This might be welcome. There are no familiar art institutions and infrastructures here. internet art is not well paid so far... the equal possibilities of www presentations blur these boundaries even more. hierarchies are built differently but how? What is www art - is it public art? Advertising? More data noise? Does it have anything to do with galleries and critics? Do we want it?"
Do you agree with the view that in this new media it is impossible do separate art from social involvement?
Do you believe in "pure art"? Artistic manifestation is always political for me too, no matter what media I use. The point is too keep right balance. Too "arty" works are usually ridiculous, too political - boring. I see that to many people internet gives an illusion of possibility of communication and understanding, art becomes more rational, more socially involved, more declarative. But on the other hand another stream - art that doesn't realize itself as "art" - non-conceived, intuitive, spontaneous, naive, comes into force.
Does the distribution globality influence the work of art, and how is this issue addressed in your Moscow experiences?
I don't think that "global distribution" is really global so far. Of course, if you are a very persistent searcher you can find everything in the net, if you know what you are looking for. It's not enough just to make a nice homepages, send applications to yahoo and lycos and than be sure that crowds of grateful viewers will inundate your site.
Internet art needs its distribution system. we need curators and critics, all those people who tend to become parasites and supervisors for artists. or - we have to invent something else. as for me, i don't believe that any media can bring people closer to understanding each other, so my internet work doesn't differ much from what i am doing in more traditional spaces.
What are in your opinion the most interesting works of eastern european internet art that you would like to recommend to the western surfer?
I would propose to try not to use words "eastern europe" and "art". the first one is imperialistic
and the second is totalitarian. Let's invent other words! With the help of internet, of course. Please tell me about your activity as cyberspace and reality connector.
Most of the work looks like hypnosis - every once in a while I feel like a TV evangelist, or something. Usually the artists I do projects with really change their attitude, and this means new responsibilities for me and for the artist. The problem of the immediate global distribution is very painful for the not so stable people that get to do a web.project, so also a lot of grassroots psychology is needed too.
In my personal life, outside activism, the changes are profound. I met people that I consider the smartest in the planet, and we're now dreaming together globally and in real time. And I can tell you another thing - those dreams are not only in color, but also hipertextual and on line and interactive, and in progress...
How do you see the future of the Underground (in a wide sense, including East European culture) in the Net?
Ohoho! There is this constant movement of the arts towards the extreme teritories that humanity reaches. This is very evident in the relationship between arts and technology - where man goes, artist goes to. It is possible to claim that this line of the avant guard is now mixing with the huge creative potential of people that are fludding the Net from the directions of text based and visual media. It is hard though to precisely point out any bigger number of succesful net.art works (or processes), but on the other hand this is exactely the reason to be optimistic about the chaotic imageof that the Net gives while reflecting humanity. Everybody is an artist, no matter if he creates or observes.. and in this way the net.surf is an art form just like the making of the official web.site for McDonalds. Every gesture now realy contains possible artistic stimulations, just like we have the complete population of the Net waching, and there is nobody to tell (us) what is art. The position of Underground in this is the same as the position of any other strata in the art landscape - it's nonexistent, now you realy look for the human behind the work, and the work (in that beautifuly broad Net.sense) is realy firmly rooted in communication rather than in fascination and social affirmation.